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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

‘Zuma likely to appeal court ruling declaring private prosecution of Ramaphosa unlawful’ – Manyi

The judges said Zuma brought the private prosecution against Ramaphosa “for an ulterior purpose in an abuse of the court’s process”.

Former president Jacob Zuma is likely to appeal the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg that set aside his private prosecution of current President Cyril Ramaphosa.

In their ruling on Wednesday, judges Mahomed Ismail, Selby Baqwa and Lebogang Modiba said Zuma’s private prosecution of the president was unlawful.

The judges of the high court said Zuma brought the private prosecution against Ramaphosa “for an ulterior purpose in what amounts to an abuse of this court’s process”.

“Therefore, he lacks a peculiar and substantial interest in the issue of the private prosecution instituted against Mr Ramaphosa. The charges would not lead to a conviction as they are grounded on conduct that does not constitute a criminal offence. Therefore, the private prosecution constitutes an abuse of process.”

The court also found the nolle prosequi certificates, upon which the prosecution was based were vague and one of them, originally issued in respect of Downer, does not apply to Ramaphosa.

Zuma to appeal

However, Zuma will not be sitting back and is going to appeal the ruling.

The Jacob Zuma Foundation spokesperson, Mzwanele Manyi, said the former president’s legal team is studying the judgment and will take instructions on the way forward.

“Last week, on 28 June 2023, Zuma, in his capacity as Private Prosecutor, filed his Notice of Application for Leave to Appeal against a similar decision by the Pietermaritzburg High Court in the related prosecution of Advocate Billy Downer and Ms Karyn Maughan.

“Since the Gauteng judgment delivered today relates to exactly the same criminal offences and raises the same legal issues about the jurisdiction and desirability civil courts deciding on matters pending before the criminal Courts, the likelihood is that this matter too will be appealed,” Manyi said.

ALSO READ: Zuma dealt a blow after private prosecution of Ramaphosa declared unlawful

Supreme Court

Manyi added that if Zuma’s legal team files the appeals, the two matters involving state prosecutor Billie Downer, journalist Karyn Maughan and Ramaphosa “will most likely be referred to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) and heard together with the leave of that court”.

“Previously, both the SCA and the Constitutional Court held in separate cases that civil courts should generally “not be allowed” to decide matters which are serving before the criminal courts and that such cases “should not be countenanced”.

“Therefore, all things being equal, the prospects of success in the higher courts should be more than good,” Manyi said.

Private prosecution

The former president initiated private prosecutions against Ramaphosa on the eve of the African National Congress’ (ANC) national elective conference on 15 December last year.

He accused Ramaphosa of being an “accessory after the fact” in a criminal offence involving State Advocate Billy Downer.

Zuma accused Downer – the lead prosecutor in his arms deal corruption trial – of violating the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Act by allegedly leaking his confidential medical information to Maughan in August 2021.

This case was also recently set aside after the High Court in Pietermaritzburg dismissed the private prosecution initiated by Zuma.

Zuma based his attempt to prosecute Ramaphosa on an accusation that the president failed to act after he complained that Downer had behaved improperly.

ALSO READ: Zuma calls for Shamila Batohi and deputy to be investigated for misconduct

Read more on these topics

arms deal Billy Downer Cyril Ramaphosa Jacob Zuma

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